Zim football needs urgent facelift

JOHANNESBURG - It was this past Saturday, August 1 at a freezing Harry Gwala Stadium in KwaZulu-Natal.

I had driven all the way to KwaZulu Natal from Gauteng hoping my “hommies” would make me proud.

But having driven 600km, I was left counting the costs of my journey at the end of 90 minutes.

The scoreboard read: South Africa Under-23 3; Zimbabwe Under-23 0. Talk of a sobering thought after reality had hit home.

In retrospect, I wished I had taken heed of one of the former Zimbabwe journalist who travelled with the team to Zimbabwe.

The veteran journo, now residing in Mzansi had travelled with the South African  team as the media officer and he told me the Young Warriors had played second fiddle for most of the match in the first leg and were actually fortunate to come off with a 1-1 draw; courtesy of a debatable penalty awarded towards the end of the game.

The same former Zim scribe warned me that travelling to KZN for the second leg would be a waste of money because events of the first leg clearly showed there was a huge gap between the two teams’ standard of play.

I dismissed the journalist’s analysis thinking it was his own perspective since he was the only one from Mzansi to have travelled and witnessed the first leg.

I had not seen any videos of the first leg, so I had reason not to believe his breakdown of events.

But boy, after 90 minutes of being given a football lesson at a cold Harry Gwala Stadium, I was left not only counting costs of the winding journey I had undertaken but reflecting on how far Zimbabwe football standards had fallen behind.

Why for the entire 90 minutes, Calisto Pasuwa insisted on long balls, the type of football which was popular with Dynamos in the 80s; the type of soccer whereby you just pump long balls upfront hoping for opposition defenders to make a mistake and hoping for the striker to capitalise on the slip-up? There is no place for that type of football anymore.

It is very archaic if you ask me. I am not a coach but have watched this game for close to four decades now and will attest, Zimbabwe needs to adapt urgently to modern trends or will continue to be a laughing stock of the continent.

Yes, I know some people will say, who am I to lecture them about Zimbabwean football but since last Saturday, I have been a worried man. Very worried!!

For starters, we need our coaches to go for advanced coaching courses, learn the ever-changing trends of the modern game and fuse that with the Zimbabwean culture if there is anything like that.

If we don’t change, this sport is very cruel and can leave us behind in the lurch.

What I witnessed of the Young Warriors left me a frightened man, very frightened.

We are going nowhere as a football nation and we need drastic changes, not tomorrow but now. That is how dire the Zimbabwean situation is.

I don’t know who will spearhead this overhaul with all the financial problems being experienced in every sector of the country.

Yet something needs to be done urgently to redress the sorry state of our football.

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